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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Commentary

Genetically modified crops: the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture

Gurdev S Khush

Author Affiliations

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA, 95616, USA

Agriculture & Food Security 2012, 1:14  doi:10.1186/2048-7010-1-14

Published: 7 September 2012


The major scientific advances of the last century featured the identification of the structure of DNA, the development of molecular biology and the technology to exploit these advances. These breakthroughs gave us new tools for crop improvement, including molecular marker-aided selection (MAS) and genetic modification (GM). MAS improves the efficiency of breeding programs, and GM allows us to accomplish breeding objectives not possible through conventional breeding approaches. MAS is not controversial and is now routinely used in crop improvement programs. However, the international debate about the application of genetic manipulation to crop improvement has slowed the adoption of GM crops in developing as well as in European countries. Since GM crops were first introduced to global agriculture in 1996, Clive James has published annual reports on the global status of commercialized GM crops as well as special reports on individual GM crops for The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). His 34th report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/ GM crops: 2011 [1] is essential reading for those who are concerned about world food security.

GM crops; Biotech crops; Agriculture; Crop improvement; Anti-GM zealots; ISAAA; Golden rice